For a better world

In some of my recent reading I came across an interesting fact. As a Christian I have learned about original sin….the sin that came from the mistakes of Adam and Eve. However, the history of this idea was not originally connected to Jesus. It was not know in the very early church. It was not a doctrine accepted by either the Jewish faith or Islam. It is another doctrine that was hammered out when the early church was struggling to keep some cohesiveness of ideas.

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Several communities of Christians developed ideas that others saw as heading the wrong way and tried to wipe out what they considered heresy. The struggles led to the Council of Nicea where many church fathers sat down to come to some agreement. Many doctrines of Christianity came from this meeting.

The interesting thing to me is that things we have been taught as “truth” may have a different beginning than we realized. It shows how what we learn from those around us can be colored by their viewpoint.

Reaching back into time to find the history of concepts we have learned may bring a different perspective entirely.

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Not too long ago I saw a program that had people tell about their backgrounds and explore some of the prejudices they had about those from different cultures. countries, and races. They then had their DNA tested and it was interesting to discover that many of them had DNA in common with those they thought were different from them. It was, for them, a wake-up call to re-examine what they had been taught.

Never be afraid to explore the birth of customs and ideas. We may find that their beginnings are not what we thought. If, by doing so, we could discard some of our learned prejudices we may create a better world.

 

Have I?

Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best: “To leave the world a bit better, whether by healthy child, a garden patch, or redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you live—that is to have succeeded.”

That is my hope. I would like to think that somehow I have left the world better. That would bring meaning to my life.

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Have I done something to help someone?

Have I done something to make the earth cleaner?

Have I stood up or spoken out about abuse and injustice?

Have I showed kindness in the face of anger or hurt?

Have I helped the cause of injured or abused animals?

Have I listened when I should?

Have I followed my beliefs?

Have I showed love?

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And most important of all Have I done any of the above?

Ritual

I have been thinking about ritual.We often equate it with religion but that is not the only place that we see it. When I get ready for bed at night I wash my face, clean my teeth, ready my bed, lower the temperature in the room by opening the window or turning on the air conditioning, turn on the overhead fan and turn out the light. I do these things in order. That is a ritual. The doing of those tasks in order brings me continuity and peace.

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This is part of what ritual does for us. participating in religious ritual at its best brings us to a place where we can experience the infinite. For most of us this does not happen often. In the Screwtape Letters C.S. Lewis has a demon distracting us in church by having us focus on anything except on the ritual. Is the lady ahead of us wearing a big hat? Is that a different woman with John? Anything will do.

Ritual of any kind usually feels comfortable and calming. (if it is familiar) We have many rituals whether we realize it or not. See if you can identify the rituals in your life.

The mystics

I love the mystics. Not just the Christian ones but any of them. BuddhaJalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, Joan of Arc, Julian of Norwich, Hildegard von Bingen, Confucius are just some of them. They are so focused. They spend time connecting with everything beyond themselves. Their understanding about what really matters is clear.

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I wish that I spent the time in meditation and silence that would bring me even a little closer to their link with “everything.” To be so synced with the universe and our role in it would be wonderful.

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I have experienced small amounts of this in the past and want to connect again. It is so hard to disconnect with everything going on around me. I continue to try and hope that I can find this kind of connection again. I will need to push to maintain a schedule until it becomes a habit.

You are you!

I love Dr.Seuss. There is so much wisdom in his books. I hope that some college course somewhere studies them. I have quite a collection and love reading them. Today I chose this quote to remind us that each of us is unique. There will never be another one. Never. Each of us is special. Appreciate who you are!

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Coincidence?

I don’t believe in coincidences. For me, it seems that the things that happen are meant to be. I guess I believe in Karma, fate, destiny and the arangels. If this seems naive then so be it. So many things have happened in my life that would be incredulous without this belief.

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I had retired from nursing and was just enjoying the time. One day I decided to read the newspaper. (I never do that!). Even more unbelievable I read the want ads. There was an add for a Parish Nurse. I had heard about this movement to join nursing with church life and had been very interested but never thought about actually doing it. The add asked for a reply to email which I did stating that I did not want a job but a ministry.

I was called and asked to interview. The job was part time, a two year grant to start and run a program and teach the idea across all denominations in my town. Good so far. I was then told that the pilot program would be hosted by a church where my Aunt was a member and where a “kissing cousin” worked part time as a visitation minister. I had been to that church often and in a town with many churches this was amazing.

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I took the job and after two years was hired by the church to continue. Twenty years later I retired.

Too many “coincidences” for me to swallow.

What do you think?

Entitled?

Entitlement. A word that raises my blood pressure the moment I hear it. There are so many issues around this word.

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Thee have been many discussions about millennials feeling entitled but they are not alone. The news has been full of wealthy people who have paid to get their children into prestigious schools. Some have paid millions. Money has made them entitled. I don’t think that this is uncommon. Whether it is movie stars, billionaires, politicians or others many today feel that they are special. The problem is they feel they are special beyond their particular world. A great many of them have a “greater than” attitude toward the rest of us.

They believe they are better than the social worker who spends her life helping people… better than the worker who has two jobs to support his family… better than the teacher who takes time to be sure pupils get the best education possible.

They feel entitled to pronounce on topics they know little about because they are smarter, prettier, wealthier. We are expected to fawn on them and understand that they are indeed special.

Some people indeed are prettier, wealthier, more famous or important in terms of popularity or being known. That does not give them the right to  look down on others.

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So many people never heard of love mankind more deeply, work harder to help others, work to save the earth, live lives of honesty and duty and many other traits. Let’s let them be entitled.

About hope

Hope…something to cling to when there is nothing else. Suzanne Boyd

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There are times when there seems to be no way forward. We can’t see ahead at all. Everything around us tells us that there is nothing that can be done. But somehow, we have hope. Hope allows us to get up in the morning. It helps us to sleep peacefully at night.

Some situations truly do seem hopeless. Someone is dying and there is nothing to do. What we can’t see may be that death is not the worst thing that can happen. In death itself there is hope. We will grieve. Sadness will rise up and swamp us often. But we are alive and will find hope in the rising sun. Each day will help us to see a future that is different. It may not be the one we planned but it is there. There are joys to be had and people to love.

The situation may seem hopeless but beyond it is a new beginning. We may have to change our hope to something different but it is there. Hope may seem lost but it is just waiting to be reclaimed.

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Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all. Emily Dickinson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We can’t grasp the infinite

venus-of-willendorfI was thinking today about how our image of God (if you have one) colors who we are and how we think. If anthropology tells us correctly the images of God dug up from very old civilizations were mostly feminine. Women with bulbous breasts and often pregnant. The idea that women created life brought about ideas of their sacredness.

I don’t know that I have ever read any study that gives a step by step progression of how and why that image changed. Might be fun to look that up but I suspect it had to do with the shift from a hunter-gatherer society to a less mobile farming one. As civilization progressed roles continued to be defined and somehow the God as woman shifted. In many cultures there were multiple Gods connected with the perception that Gods controlled the vagaries of the earth and could be appealed to to bring good outcomes.

As God, melded into a single entity in several cultures that entity was primarily male. Our Christian beginnings, linked to the Jewish culture, were firmly entrenched in a male image.

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All this being said how does this affect how we think? If we see a male, patriarchal God we will expect a male dominated society. Our society has had this aspect for quite a long time. If we believe in a God we have to learn to see God as more. God as feminine, God as neutral, God as gay, transgender or whatever allows us to feel connected with the divine. This idea can be offensive to some but the point is we connect with a God who is like us for right or wrong. That is why some people have had a difficult time with images of god. The image we have definitely colors our thinking. It is time we espouse a very broad image. After all, we can’t possibly grasp the infinite. Don’t put God in a box.